In late Dec of 2017 at a steakhouse he stuck his phone in our faces as soon as he was seated. “Look at this!” He could barely contain himself.
I don’t remember the exact number because all that mattered was the “$9” preceding the other 5 digits. The fat bastard was showing us his cryptocurrency wallet. I don’t like it when other people succeed greatly so my first instinct was to deny the credibility of the situation.
A few months prior he put in $20,000 into an initial coin offering and somehow the value skyrocketed almost 50-fold. This was at the time when bitcoin prices were parabolic. “You going to cash out?” I asked.
“Not until it hits $10,000,000,” he replies.
I advised that he should cash out at least $100,000 but he wasn’t interested. Hey, what do I know? If it was me I wouldn’t have even put any money into this, and if I did I surely wouldn’t have held this long. You have to be a certain type of crazy to get rich quick.
Not even a month later I hear he’s up to $2,000,000 with this “coin” which doesn’t even do anything. What do you own? A piece of code? Being at least $8,000,000 from his intended exit target he still doesn’t cash out anything. Again, what do I know? I definitely would have cashed out in late December and wouldn’t be up $2,000,000. Who am I to stop someone’s dream of yachts and butlers.
Shortly after being up $2,000,000 the value of all cryptocurrencies plummeted 75% or more. I’ve never asked but my napkin math tells me his digital wallet is now displaying a value somewhere around $250,000. A mere glimmer of what it used to be but more than enough to have someone and their hamster professionally killed.
There’s a lesson here somewhere.
- Don’t buy into foolish investments
- Cash out at least a little bit on the way up
- You can’t make 50 times your money if you sell at 25 times
- You can’t make 100 times your money if you sell at 50 times
- Sometimes you have to take people’s advice
- Sometimes you shouldn’t listen to anyone
Where I live in Vancouver, BC, real estate is ridiculously expensive. Anyone who could have got in before 2010 but didn’t is kicking themselves. If you were born in 1990 and after then there’s not much you could have done. There were many though who were 30 or 40 years old in the beginning of the millennium and did nothing.
We all know by a fairly young age that real estate will eventually go up but many don’t pull the trigger until they feel they have to(about to get married or have kids) or when they have too much money sitting around.
Evolution is slow. People like to move slowly because it’s more comfortable. They put off buying a home so that they can save more money or they tell themselves that the market might go down. If you want to be ahead of most people your age then you have to move faster than them.
When the water is calm people lounge around. When the big wave hits or the sharks are circling, people piss their pants, panic and herd in. Once prices go sky high people are now eager to jump in. It’s just human behaviour.
So are you sure you want to wait? “Expensive” is a relative term.
The S&P 500 index could be referred to as the benchmark for investing returns. In order to justify managing your own money or paying someone else, your returns have to beat this index otherwise you’re better off putting your money in a low fee S&P 500 index fund(Vanguard, Spyder).
The chart below indicates if you had put your money in at anytime in the last 90 years(except in the last couple months) you would have seen a return from your investment. There were better years than others but as long as you held you would have made money.
Although it’s next to a sure thing that you will make money if you’re in it for the long term you probably wouldn’t want to pile in all of your money at once unless if the market has took a huge beating like in early 2009.
If you had piled in all of your money at the peak of the tech boom in the year 2000 you would have seen your investment get cut by close to half at the bottom of the tech bust the following year.
That decade wasn’t the best for a long term investor due to the Great Recession that followed in 2008. The index rose back to its high after the tech bust only to get slammed even worse. It’s like falling madly in love only to get heartbroken and then have it happen all over again soon after you recovered.
If you weathered the storm until today though you’re in love again. In 2001 the index at its peak was at around 1500 points and in 2018 it’s been in the 2500-2800 range.
Instead of piling in all at once a more prudent strategy would be to put smaller portions every month so that you hedge against having all of your money invested at the top. Sure, if you go all in at once you’ll more than likely see your investment above water one day but in the case presented above you would have had to wait until 2013 to see a gain from your 2001 investment. That sucks.
If the index has taken a bad beating already though it’s probably a strategic move to put in more money than you usually would. Buying at the bottom is how you get the largest returns.
A big reason why so many people don’t invest their money in the markets is because it’s something you can put off and not hate yourself for until way down the road. Many have no qualms with owning real estate because it’s almost a tradition plus you need somewhere to live anyway. Just as many celebrate the idea of marriage even with the significant failure rate. Statistically your odds at winning in marriage are about 10 percentage points higher than a typical casino game. Do you feel lucky chump? Well, do you?
Fortunately, the S&P 500 index does not care if you do not take out the garbage or if you gain 70 pounds. Like marriage, it too has its ups and downs but if you stick it out you will be victorious in the end if the last 90 years has anything to say about it.
2001 and 2008 were rough years but we pulled through baby!
What if I lose all of my money?
The S&P 500 is comprised of 500 of the largest publicly listed companies companies in America. If they fail life is over anyway.
Sure, it’s all been good up until now but how do I know the trend will continue?
The truth is you don’t know for sure but this is almost as close as a guarantee you’re going to get. There are no guarantees in life but you have to side with the most rational decisions.
How much am I going to get back in 30 years?
The answer to this is unknown but you can reasonably expect somewhere in the neighborhood of an average of 5 to 10% annually. Much of this depends on how you invest into it.
The data below shows the annual returns of the index since 1988. As you can see there are many more positive years than negative.
If this hasn’t been compelling enough because I’m just some schmuck blogger then you can put your trust in Warren Buffett. He advises that 99% of people should invest in a low cost S&P 500 index fund such as a Vanguard fund and they’ll do great in the long run. Also, when he dies he has planned for 90% of his money to be put in such a fund for his wife.